Political stage set for watershed 2019 Malawi elections: Parties eye Central, Southern Region votes

The stage for the 2019 tripartite elections is now set with the submission of presidential nomination papers with the Malawi Electoral Commission from 4 to 8 February at Comesa Hall in Blantyre. The elections will be highly contested since 1994 not only because of the campaign messages that are being sold and the political players involved, but there is a shift in the balance of support. Whoever will win the elections will be voted by a small percentage of the electorate.

Presidential candidates: Confirmed: (L to R) Chakwera, Chisi, Kuwani, Banda. Chilima, Muluzi, Chilumpha, Kaliya and Mutharika

Until July 2018 when Vice President Salous Chilima formed a splinter party, UTM, from the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), it seemed like a two-way race between Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and DPP. However, with the formation of UTM the political landscape has changed dramatically as the new party has amassed support beyond anyone’s expectations.

Whether the large crowds seen at campaign rallies will be translated into votes is yet to be seen.  It is equally difficult to say whether UTM has any stronghold because it will be contesting in the elections for the first time. The strength of a political party is not measured by the number of people attending its rallies, but the number of parliamentary seats.

However, it is the choice of the running mate that has the country talking. Individuals without political clout or track record of political ambitions have been chosen with an exception of MCP who had already unveiled Sadik Mia has running mate to Lazarus Chakwera.  Party supporters and the nation at large are surprised at the choice of running mates.  Former President Joyce Banda picked Jerry Jana for her People’s Party (PP); UTM saw Salous Chilima picking Michael Usi as his running mate.  UDF Atupele Muluzi picked Aford MP Frank Mwenefumbo while President Peter Mutharika picked Everton Chimulirenji.

While a party president is given the mandate to choose a running mate, the person they choose should be seasoned, inspirational and well-known enough to appeal to party members and to the electorate. The running-mate (who is essentially the vice president of the country) should inspire confidence and trust among the citizens. In the event that the incumbent president is incapacitated or has died (God forbid!) he will be the president of the country.  The choice of running mate can disappoint members and cause them to change their mind of who to vote for because it reflects lack of seriousness and does not inspire much confidence that such a person can lead effectively. MCP is the only party with a pair which people have seemingly liked.

Apart from surprises, the choice of running mate has also revealed that regionalism is still a factor in Malawian politics as parties look for people in regions who would bring more votes in their fold.  That Malawian political parties are essentially regional is uncontested. While all political parties have been unequivocal in saying they want to do away with tribalism and regionalism, the way they choose running mates is largely influenced by regionalism. For example, Sidik Mia was largely roped into MCP leadership to woo votes in the southern region as Richard Msowoya, the then vice president of MCP, who comes from the north was seen as not bringing more votes.

Everyone knows how Msowoya was sidelined and Mia became a de facto vice president of MCP soon after joining the party. In 2014 President Joyce Banda (JB) damped Vice President Khumbo Kachali (KK) and chose Sostein Gwengwe (central region) as her running mate to win more votes in the central region and to tap the youth vote. This was despite the fact that KK was a more seasoned politician and had suffered together with JB under Bingu Mutharika over disagreement about the succession issue.

Saolusi Chilima has equally chosen Michael Usi (from Southern Region) because UTM wants to tap votes into DPP stronghold. Peter Mutharika has chosen Chimulirenji to win votes in the central region which is MCP stronghold (though Ntcheu where Chimulirenji and Chilima comes from never votes for MCP). Although Atupele Muluzi has paired with Mwenefumbo (from the North), north as a region is not taken as a major political player because people are few. If one may ask, why did President Peter Mutharika, Saulos Chilima or Joyce Banda not pick a running mate from the north? All of them have used this as a strategy to attract more votes in regions where running mates are coming from.

Incidentally, no political party, whether MCP, DPP, UTM, PP or UDF, can claim to have a stronghold in the north. Northerners do not vote anyhow. They vote the way they see things. Parties like MCP, DPP and UTM should expect to compete fiercely for votes.  UTM, DPP, PP UDF and MCP will share votes in the Southern Region. MCP will still retain its stronghold in the central region.

Although President Mutharika and his DPP have failed to live up to the expectations of the Malawians, they should be able to get more votes in the southern region (Mulanje, Chiradzulu, Zomba, Phalombe, Blantyre, Lower Shire). UDF should be comfortable in its traditional stronghold of Mangochi, Machinga, Balaka, Liwonde and parts Zomba.  UTM should also do well in Zomba, Mulanje, Lower Shire, and some parts of the central region such as Ntcheu and Salima.

The central region (Dedza, Dowa, Lilongwe rural, Kasungu, Ntchisi, Mchinji, Salima with an exception of Ntcheu) has always thrown their political weight behind MCP. The cities of Blantyre, Lilongwe, Mzuzu and Zomba are cosmopolitan and political parties should share parliamentary seats.

The real contest will revolve around DPP, MCP and UTM. Other political parties and presidential candidates have very slim chances of succeeding.

 

 

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Elvin Kawale
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Elvin Kawale

THE LOVE VOTE – ELECTIONS 2019 PREAMBLE Elections are at hand and many will vote just as they did in 2014. But the big question is whether your vote was a love vote and wisely cast or a worsted vote. INTRODUCTION First we have to realise that you the voter as an individual are not alone in this country, therefore your vote is not for your individual welfare or benefit, but should be meant for the wellbeing of millions of Malawians mostly those who are in dire need. Suffering the skyrocketing cost of living, those who cannot afford medical services… Read more »

tizanka
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tizanka

So somehow all the people who live in the central region come from Dowa or Ntchisi. Nobody from Lilongwe moved from Mulanje, Chiradzulu or Thyolo. Ana onse akabaza mu 25 or 36 awa ndi a ku Nsalu, palibepo a kwa nyezelela kapena a kwa nkando kkkkkkkkk This is funny, if politics is regionalistic then dont just look at the regio, look at the populance and ask them where they are coming from.

Mukhakiwa
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Mukhakiwa

UTM will sweep all the cities including Dedza and the north. The north cant vote for any party that once championed nepotisms or let alone kota system – oh yeah MCP is not exception on this. The Hurry Mkandawire and Khumbo Kachali wont help..ask Richard Msowoya. Remember the region has people that were deliberately not selected to secondary schools or public universities simply coz they dont ethnically relate to other Pips down south dwangwa river. These are the real issues politicians will have to address in their campaign messages in order to win votes from the north.

joji wina
Guest

dpp ikulamulanso chaka chino…just wait and see pajatu ovotafe sitilubwalubwa online…

Section 1000
Guest
Section 1000

Its Highly likely MCP will win the presidential race.in 2014 MCP was able to keep hold of the central region ,Ntcheu being an exception as usual and they lost by around 300 thousand votes to DDP and that 300 votes was slightly lower than registered voters in Ntcheu which voted DPP because of the Chilima Factor.Now Chilima is no longer there so 70% of these votes will not go to DPP they will UTM i.e DPP has lost Ntcheu.DPP has also lost some percentage of the Lhomwe Vote bcoz there is no way Akweni can lose in her constituency and… Read more »

Mpalume
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Mpalume

mcp has been out of goverment for decades now ,what have they been doing all these years not to win elections having the central being its stronghold ? in 2019 Bakili with his udf helped mcp against Bingu with all not just a part of eastern region but still more lost to dpp. How can mcp win this because of Mia in south and easten region, is mia powerful than how Bakili was in 2009 ?

kond1
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kond1

uwe ndi munthu wanzeru kwabasi

Minority President
Guest
Minority President

wakwiya ndi mfiti

M'Malawi
Guest
M'Malawi

Check your stats. It was not 300 thousand but around 500 thousand

President Mkango Lion Manthakanjenjemereza
Guest
President Mkango Lion Manthakanjenjemereza

Vote for MCP or UTM

Beholder front
Guest
Beholder front

You’ll do your math who’ll win this contentious election: Southern region: 2,037,218
Central region: 2,915,452
Eastern region 972,432
Northern region 931,229

akatraz
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akatraz

for central region almost a million are for Lilongwe which is shared, no one will claim for lilongwe

kond1
Guest
kond1

abhodzatu inu . Don’t you know that in 2014 mcp won lilongwe with 62% ?? And do you know how much was that 62%??

M'Malawi
Guest
M'Malawi

Not true: there are two Lilongwes: city and rural. It’s only city that’s shared. LL Rural majority votes MCP

Nanthala
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Nanthala

Lilongwe rural which has 18 constituencies is purely MCP. It’s only in the city where votes are shared

chaione wawo
Guest

Even a layman could do this analysis. Nothing new here.

M D
Guest
M D

thanx thus your views, mine is that UTM siikuona za stronghold zanuzo

MMalawi weniweni
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MMalawi weniweni

Yes just like me I don’t care about strongholds ndikufuna mtsogoleri was nzeru amene adzasinthe chuma cha Dziko langa kupita patsogolo….za stronghold’zi tiziika nazo azitsogoleri opanda masomphenya

VOICE OF THE POOR
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VOICE OF THE POOR

MCP is sitting on the advantage..

Vinthumfumbenge
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Vinthumfumbenge

What you have written Lowani is very true and looking at the registered voters central has the highest and though south is second there will be divided votes , then in addition to that, forget not the null and void votes and then MCP has made some big inroads in south this time around unlike in 2014 which is a plus to them. Though there is a lot of euphoria with the coming of UTM but their strong command is in the cities where unemployment is high and they do not have a political constituency. So the players are DPP… Read more »